Judge Tosses Indictments of Vice President Cheney, Ex-AG Gonzales
Posted Dec 2, 2008 7:31 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A Texas judge has dismissed indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that had been brought by a controversial prosecutor nearing the end of his term.
Judge Manuel Banales on Monday granted motions to quash because alternate grand jurors were improperly allowed to deliberate the charges, report the Associated Press and the San Antonio Express-News. The indictments of Cheney, Gonzales and six other officials stemmed from alleged prisoner abuse at a federal detention center.
Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra told reporters after the hearing that he wasn’t surprised by the ruling. "I expected it," he said. "The system is going to protect itself."
The indictment against Cheney had alleged that his investment in the Vanguard Group, which invests in private prisons, was a conflict of interest allowing him to profit from detention centers where inmates were being abused. The indictment against Gonzales had claimed he had used his position to stop a prison abuse investigation in Willacy County.
Guerra himself had previously been indicted for allegedly extorting money from a bail bond company, but Banales dismissed the charges in October, the AP story says. While under indictment, Guerra had staged protests in front of the sheriff's office with farm animals.
Among those indicted who won dismissals yesterday were two special prosecutors, two judges and a court clerk who had a part in the investigation of Guerra.